It's easy to feel a bit down about your body, we all have things we'd like to change, but there's no way you should let your insecurities take up much of your time. These days we're flooded with negative body imagery from the media, and we're constantly being told we need to go on this type of diet, or do this kind of exercise - they haven't made the path to self-love easy for us. So, we've come up with 13 things you need to remember in order to be more body positive. Enough of the fat-shaming and the body-snarking, let's send out some positivity!
1 It's not about beauty, it's about looking after yourself
They say beauty is skin deep blablabla but beauty actually comes from within. If you take care of yourself, treat your body the way it deserves, you'll have a natural glow that you won't find in the aisles of Boots. Happiness isn't size-specific or linked to what you're wearing or how straight your hair is - it's so much more. Make taking care of yourself a major priority, and the rest will fall into place.
2 Personality is what makes you unique
Your body is only a small part of everything that makes up who you are. Place more value on your personality and you'll quickly see that all the superficial stuff doesn't matter that much. My love handles are nothing compared to my awesome rendition of Beyoncé's Single Ladies dance. It took years of practice, but it's fabulous.
3 And your actions
The choices you make are far more important than what you look like. When you're gone (sorry if that's a bit morbid), no one's going to remember you for being a size 10, they'll remember that amazing book you wrote or the insane mountain you climbed. So stop fretting about your looks, and start climbing!
4 We need to stop body-snarking
Body-snarking AKA saying something negative about someone else's body is something we've all been a victim of, and we're all guilty of it too - so let's make it stop! No more bitching about your ex's new girlfriend's ugly hair, she has to be in a relationship with your ex - that's enough punishment! The internet, and its big cloak of anonymity, gives body-shaming unwelcome encouragement. If you're familiar with Tumblr you might be aware of some of the damaging comments anonymous posters can leave on your blog. However, lets take inspiration from Lindsay Bottos who turned hateful anonymous messages into an awesome art project called Anonymous.
5 Let's stick our middle fingers up at tabloids
Misogynistic, baseless and downright fucked up tabloid narratives are still being written every single day. Don't let their narrow beauty standards affect you, stick your finger up and move on.
6 Or at least make fun of them
The amazing Vagenda Magazine asked their Twitter followers to re-write some utter bullshit tabloid headlines and replace them with 'normalised' versions. Not only are these submissions utterly hilarious, they prove just how demeaning the original headlines are. Also be sure to check out Amanda Palmer's brilliant open letter to the Daily Mail.
7 We need to keep a critical eye on what we're exposed to
Become a critical viewer on any message you receive whether it's through TV, magazines, social media and remember that these images aren't representative of all of us. What we see (or more importantly what we DON’T see) can leave us thinking that we're the only person with stretch marks, a double chin and no thigh gap. This simply isn't the case.
If any kind of slogan, image or whatever makes you feel shit about yourself - protest the hell out of it. The more we fight back about the things that give us a negative feeling, the more we'll be able to clamp down on body-shaming once and for all.
9 Let's tell fat shamers to piss off
If you're offended by someone showing off their belly or letting their thighs jiggle you need to take a hike. It's unacceptable to makes someone feel less than human because they don't comply with some bullshit beauty standard that's been set by people who have no relation to us whatsoever. Your body is your own business, no one can tell you what to do with it. It's yours, cherish it, look after it and be proud of it.
10 Let's reclaim the world 'fat'
Source: Pug Rescue Network
Scriver and Scheidt launched the Fat Girl Good Squad and they are my idols. These body positive activists feel strongly about reclaiming the word 'fat', which in their view should not be seen as an insult but simply as a state of being. There's nothing inherently wrong about being fat, so we need to stop treating it that way. Calling someone 'fat' is a way to shame someone, but if you see it as a descriptive term and nothing else (e.g. like hair colour) it's stripped of its destructiveness.
11 Use the time and energy spent on diets and self-loathing on something more useful
As a teen I covered the walls of my room in a crazy-organised diet plan, I spent hours coming up with it and if I failed I had to plan the whole thing again from scratch. It makes me sad to think about, especially when I find some 14 year-old piano-playing prodigy on YouTube and curse myself for wasting all that time planning out diets. Not that I could have been a musical prodigy, I have zero musical talent, but I could have definitely done something else with my time!
12 Remember: you're a whole person
See yourself as a whole, not as someone who is made up of lots of little parts that you can nitpick and criticise over and over again. Your body is a vehicle to fulfil all the great plans you've set out for yourself. Use it wisely!
Feature image: Tara Obrien